Obama ‘Can’t Wait’ for the Rule of Law
President Obama’s proclamation on Monday that he
“can’t wait” for congressional action to help underwater homeowners raises two
If he already had the legal authority to take action,
then why did he wait?
Some may frame the second question this way: does
Obama’s plan exceed his constitutional authority? Perhaps the better way to ask
the second question is whether the Obama plan is unlawful.
Either way, I can’t wait for Congress to conduct some
oversight hearings before the plan kicks in. This isn’t just a figurative slap
in the face to both Congress and the rule of law; this is a kick in the
Ignoring the Constitution is so liberating for Mr.
Obama that he intends to do it on a “regular basis.”
The subtitle to Emily Miller’s piece at The Washington
following the announcement of Obama’s “can’t wait” plan is “President unveils
lawless scheme to bypass Congress with executive orders.”
The term “lawless” is sometimes used in common
parlance the same way we use “unlawful,” but its real meaning is “not subject
to, or controlled by, the law.”
If we were to deem the president’s actions as not
subject to, nor controlled by, the law, then we are partly to blame. If we fail
to even recognize government lawbreaking when and where it occurs, we get what
If, however, we were to take the view that the
president’s actions are in fact supposed to be governed and restricted by the
law, and that Mr. Obama’s actions not consistent with the law are therefore
unlawful, then we have a chance of preserving liberty. The rule of law protects
liberty; abuse of the rule of law erodes liberty.
President Obama and his administration have engaged in
years of lawbreaking. Mr. Obama unlawfully used TARP money so that the
government obtained ownership interests in Chrysler and General Motors. He
ignored the War Powers Act in deploying the military machine to Libya. When
Congress refused to pass the DREAM Act, he implemented portions of it via
His contempt for the rule of law has had a
trickle-down effect into federal administrative bureaucracies such as the
Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board. Even
his Department of Justice has shown contempt for the rule of
Democratic representatives Jim Moran and Jesse
Jackson, Jr. recently urged — on camera, in fact — that President Obama
implement portions of the Obama jobs bill that never made it through
These are members of Congress advocating for more
lawbreaking because they know they have a president who is willing to break —
indeed, has broken — the law governing his office and limiting its powers. So
much for our system of checks and balances.
They also know that the patsy liberal media don’t care
about these things unless the unconstitutional lawbreaking is done by
The Constitution is broad in its sweep, but is
specific about certain functions of government. Congress makes the laws. When
Congress doesn’t pass a law, the president can’t pick up his bat and ball like
an angry juvenile.
We are hearing more and more from the left that the
president must do administratively what Congress refuses to do legislatively.
These are not mere words of frustration. They are words of an ideology that is
dangerously inconsistent with American ideals.
The calls from the left to violate the Constitution
are protected by the First Amendment. It is when they are implemented by the
president that they become lawbreaking. The Constitution, you see, governs
Mark Levin on his radio show Monday night played clips
of the Obama “can’t wait” speech and asked listeners to envision a foreign
dictator speaking in English. That was quite an effective way to make the point
that in America we don’t do the sort of things Obama said he “can’t wait” to
America will not lapse into a dictatorship; we won’t
let that happen. But the dictatorial aspects of the Obama administration must
be called out for what they are: lawbreaking.
Harry Truman onced claimed that there were emergency
circumstances during the Korean War to use his commander-in-chief powers to
unilaterally stop a steel union strike. His effort, though, was defeated in the
Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company v. Sawyer case.
Justice Robert Jackson, writing a concurring opinion in
the case, said this about claims of unrestricted executive power: “Such power
either has no beginning or it has no end. If it exists, it need submit to no
legal restraint. I am not alarmed that it would plunge us straightway into
dictatorship, but it is at least a step in that wrong
Obama’s “can’t wait” plan is another example of how
the Constitution does not run on automatic pilot. It must be enforced
If Congress responds weakly or passively to this kick
in the groin, then they are as much the problem as Mr. Obama.
Mark Fitzgibbons is co-author
with Richard Viguerie of the e-pamphlet “The Law That Governs Government:
Reclaiming The Constitution From Usurpers And Society’s Biggest